When trying to negotiate the best price for a Manhattan property, there are some items that you can control/interpret yourself and some that you will need an experienced broker to assist you.
For starters, you want to have the below info
1- days on market
2- previous offers
3- current market conditions
4- owner’s motivation
5- nearby construction that will affect light and views
Armed with this information, you at least have a starting point but you will need your broker to interpret the following:
1- recent sales and how they compare with the Manhattan property you are considering
2- adjustments for view, light, condition,
3- how the market conditions affect this particular unit
With your basic information plus your broker’s input, you can make your offer. To negotiate the best possible take the below approach.
1- Start with a reasonable offer. If you start too low, likely the seller will not counter. In some cases, when the DOM is high like 300 days or more, you may be able to make an offer than is lower.
2- Have your broker explain to the other side how you calculated the offer price that you gave.
3- Be willing to either walk away or wait if the counter offer is not to your liking. If you wait long enough a price reduction 1-2 months later may be even lower than the counter offer that you received.
Usually, when a listing is fresh, the seller is less likely to discount the price but as time goes on and reality sets in, they may be more willing to negotiate.
The Author- Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every Manhattan market from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.
Here are some basic steps in purchasing a Manhattan apartment for the first time.
1- Decide on a Manhattan neighborhood
2- Get a pre approval
3- Co-op or condo?
3- Find a buyer broker
Also I would add to choose your real estate attorney well. Usually your buyer broker can help you with that. A real estate attorney usually chages around $2500 or so but some that do excellent work can be found for as little as $1700 depending on the price range of the property.
Additionally, beyond getting the pre approval make sure that the bank will finance in the building that you choose. Some buildings have sponsors that still own more than 10% of the shares(co-ops) or the apartments(condos) or a higher than usual percentage of tenants. This can complicate financing and is an area very often overlooked by many real estate brokers. This as a buyer can cost you time and money and add stress. So vet the building with your lender to avoid all of that! What are your tips for a first time buyer?
by Brian Silvestry
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has a buying guide for purchasers of NYC co-ops and condos. Highlights include:
1- The offering plan and why you should read the entirety
2- New construction and what guarantees are mandated by law
3- Recourse in case the actual apartment is different or if there are issues on your final walkthrough
4- What to do on your final walkthrough
Click the link below the read the AG’s guide to buying a NYC co-op or condo and good luck.
I do not recommend to walk into the sales office of new development in Manhattan without an experienced buyer broker. Sales have slowed for new development and make sure you choose a buyer broker is proactive in being able to negotiate on your behalf as well as to give advice as to other buildings that will be going up nearby that may affect views and quality of life. It’s not always a given that there will be no negotiation on price/terms considering current market conditions in Manhattan especially in a buyer’s market.
by Brian Silvestry
6 tips to help decide to buy a NYC apartment or not
Keep in mind that these tips are just a guide. When making a large purchase like a Manhattan apartment, entering into it with your eyes wide open can only yield better results. I chose not to include obvious factors like views, condition of the apartment and overall affordability. These will be addressed in another series.
- Building Financials- Generally speaking Manhattan buildings deal with their capital improvements and repairs in one of three ways: a-They raise the maintenance b- They assess c- They budget and pay out of the reserves. Obviously, this 3rd category of building is one that you would love to find but given the dearth of property for sale, it may not be feasible to limit yourself. However, after your CPA or your attorney takes a look at the building financials, you can get an idea of what the history of the building is with regards to maintenance or improvements. Also, your attorney will be able to advise you if there are any major projects planned. You can also find this out by talking to the seller’s agent who may have first hand knowledge. The $2000 maintenance you have right now may very well be headed to $3000 or higher shortly, depending on what’s planned so this should help to distinguish between a well managed building and a building that is constantly running a deficit. Keep in mind even though you may be able to pay the higher maintenance figure, the increased maintenance will be a drag on appreciation.
- Are there any negative issues that will be an impediment to selling? My first NYC apartment was on the first floor of a doorman building and inventory back in 2004 was also tight so I was happy to grab it before others. However, in 2010 when I was selling, everyone was complaining about it being on the first floor. When the market is hot people scoop up 1st floor apartments and walkups but when the market changes, these are hard apartments to sell. Also, an apartment with a negative view is a major drawback. Even though, you may not mind looking out the window at the dumpster in the alley, the next purchaser probably will
- Amenities- You may or may not want a doorman but generally a doorman building will fetch at least 5% more than a similar apartment. Other amenities like a gym, laundry room, and roof deck all add value. I would also included in the amenities the pet policy. You might not want a little furry friend making a mess on your Brazilian wood floors, but one of the most searched items online is pets allowed. So limiting pets may limit buyers down the road all things considered.
- Rental policy- While you may think that you will leave in that 400 sqft studio for your entire life, there’s a chance that you will outgrow it or even you might get a job transfer. If you buy at the top of the market 2014- present, it might be unrealistic to expect that you can flip your aparment for a profit so having the ability to rent it out for a few years can be helpful in case that transfer to Sao Paulo comes through. Also, lesser known fact is that rental policies like pet policies can be changed.
- Building financing issues- Are there any pending lawsuits or does any one entitiy(Sponsor?) still hold at least 10% of the apartments? Are they a high proportion of rental units in the building? Any of these factors can restrict financing options which will impact you and also future purchasers as well.
- New construction- Obviously if you are buying a Related or Extell product, you are probably pretty secure in your purchase but are you planning to buy from an unknown developer. There are plenty of cases where after buildings were built, there were issues. So caveat emptor here with an unknown developer. What looks good new doesn’t always stand the test of time. Do your research on the developer.
by Brian Silvestry
The new tax law can be a big boost to investment real estate and gives an advantage over art collection. The reason is the IRS code 1031. The 1031 exchange allows owners of investment real estate to sell one property and buy another and defer the taxes. Generally, the property being sold is sold first, possible purchase properties are identified within 45 days of closing and must be closed and purchased within 180 days of the first closing. The 1031 exchange has facilitated the buying and selling of Manhattan property and in other states for years. It is a staple of the real estate investor. It used to apply to art as well as stocks. But now the new tax law has eliminated 1031 exchanges for anything but real estate.
This will seem to be a boon to the real estate industry and could play into an elevated market for investment real estate as well.
NYT How the Tax code Rewrite Favors Real Estate over Art
by Brian Silvestry
If you are thinking of buying in Midtown, Manhattan, take a look the profile of Turtle Bay written by the NYT. One of the few areas that remains a neighborhood and still has affordable apartments relative to the surrounding neighborhoods. As Manhattan nabes expand, will this be a great investment?
by Brian Silvestry
Right now due to the new tax laws, some parts of the real estate market will be see price depreciation. See previous coverage.
However, some developments like the Upper West side’s Park West Village may see continued price stability and appreciation. The reason is that real estate taxes and SALT (state and local taxes) will no longer be deductible beyond $10,000. So if you have the funds to purchase an apartment and your cap is below $2.5 million, paying $22,000 per year in taxes may not seem as appealing. Or let’s say your budget is $1.5 million and knowing that in one apartment you will pay $15,000 per year in taxes, most of which will not be deductible or $3600 per year in taxes? Which apartment will you gravitate towards?
This is why Park West Village which is a 4 building condo development built in early 1960’s and other developments with tax abatement may see a surge in activity as the upper middle class purchasers get more discerning due to the lack of subsidy from the eliminated deduction.
Park west Village is located between West 97th street and West 100th street, Central Park west and Columbus avenue. Each of the four buildings has just over 400 apartments, concierge, gyms, storage, children’s playroom, live-in-super and parking available. Average common charges and taxes combine for a very low $1 per square foot. Apartment sizes range from studios of about 540 sqft (50m2) start at about $800k, to 2 bedroom/2bathrooms of 1140 sqft(106m2)which start at $1.5 million.
If you are thinking of buying in a building where they lease the land below the condo, only do so if there are sufficient time left on the land lease, meaning 30 years or more and you understand fully the risks.
In general, the land price can skyrocket at the end of the land lease in the case where the owner is a private individual or company so have an attorney very knowledgeable in these matters advise you. Also, have a buyer broker who knows what questions to ask to save you unnecessary attorney expense. How much does the land lease go up annually and for how long are those rates locked in?
In Battery Park City, the owner of the land leases of all the buildings is the Battery Park City Authority, a non profit set up to create and preserve the neighborhood of Battery Park so there is not an interest to raise the rents beyond the realm of reason. Having said that, you and your broker, plus later attorney should exercise caution and make sure that you are getting exceptional value for your purchase.
For example, as a result of paying rent on the land, your monthly charges might be higher than a typical Manhattan apartment. If you are going to be paying a higher than normal monthly charge then the apartment should be less expensive than something similar where the monthly charges would be on par with Manhattan averages. Also, you might not see the typical appreciation that you would see on other Manhattan apartments.
If you are thinking of buying a Manhattan condo for investment with the objective to hold for rental income, here is one simple tip that is often overlooked.
In general, after paying common charges and taxes, you will gain an approximate 2% return annual. So an apartment that you acquire for $2 million will yield approximately $40,000 in net income. In some cases, you might have an even lower return.
One type of property that you might consider is an apartment with enough space to add an additional bedroom. With the right design, you can rent an additional bedroom/den for a higher income just due to the increase in bedroom count. I had one listing where they converted the dining room to a 2nd bedroom and as a result we were able to rent the apartment for $4,200 whereas similar size apartments without the conversion were renting for around $3500. This made the return on the apartment based on the current market value closer to 3%.
You will need to see if the layout will allow it. Usually a space will need to have a minimum of 750-800 sqft to accomplish this but it will also depend on the current layout. A dining room or a dining area will be an ideal area to make the additional bedroom as long as there is a window and enough space.
With more people than ever sharing apartments and families remaining in Manhattan, this a nice way to gain an additional rental income and increase your yield on the property.
If you are an international buyer looking for an investment property in the confusing Manhattan real estate market, there are many things to consider but here we have one simple tip. Consider buying in a new construction building that is tax abated.
A tax abated building will give you a higher rate of return of your investment due to the low monthly charges in comparison to a similar building without the abatement. A 20 year tax abatement will mean you pay probably around $100 or so per month instead of nearly $1500(at least). By year 12, the taxes begin to adjust upwards with each 2 year cycle the taxes going up as per the below.
Year 12 20% of fair market taxes
Year 14 40% of fair market taxes
Year 16 60% of fair market taxes
Year 18 80% of fair market taxes
Year 20 100% of fair market taxes
So for example a $3mm apartment with 2 bedrooms/2.5 bathrooms with common charges of about $1800 and 1300 sqft (120m2) of living space might rent for about $7000. With a tax abatement, your monthly return is about $5100 or $61,200 annually assuming taxes of $100 per month. Your rate of return is just above 2% on the $3mm investment. These would be the numbers for 50 Riverside boulevard aka One Riverside Park on Manhattan’s upper west side. Now if the building was not tax abated and you were paying $1500 per month in real estate taxes then your monthly return goes down to $3600 or $43,200 annual. The rate of return of approximately would be approximately 1.4%. Over the course of 10 years, the savings from a tax abatement would be approximately $170,000.
So if you are an international investor or even a local real estate investor purchasing new construction in Manhattan, take a look at tax abated buildings. Certainly, there are not a ton of them but they do exist and will increase your rate of return both now and long term.